I make no claims as an expert birder or photographer, but just someone who has slowly acquired some knowledge and appreciation of both. I was a birder first. A family cottage on Keuka Lake in New York supplied the ideal habitat for a young birder. My mother always had a Golden Book Bird Guide available, and I had access to the family’s Binolux binoculars for excursions into the large field along the lake. The first exciting sighting was a Common Yellowthroat. This was not the common feeder or yard bird but something new and beautiful. I remember the excitement finding its picture and making the final ID from the guidebook. My appetite was whetted. My birding expanded into young adulthood on family trips to Cape Cod in the 1980’s. I first experienced a guided bird walk and the expertise of gifted birder at the National Seashore. About this time I started a life list, using some early commercial software. Eventually I made time for some birding on any domestic trip or vacation, and soon did the same overseas. I have been an enthusiastic eBird user since its early days, and strongly recommend it as both a teaching and tabulating tool.
I currently live on the Chesapeake Bay on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and vacation yearly in Southwest Florida. These are wonderful locations for birding. Opportunities abound, just out the back door, but also within a short drive. Talbot County, Maryland is also blessed with numerous expert birders that inspire and impress.
The photographic piece was added much later. A point-and-shoot digital camera helped with some difficult ID’s, but as you know could not produce the fine photos you see on the various websites. Finally succumbing to the prodding of a fellow birder, and better photographer, I entered the new world of DSLR with its cameras, lenses, software processing, etc. It’s been fun, and I believe has enhanced my birding skills. My current favorite camera is the Canon 7D II and favorite birding lens is the Canon 100-400mm 1:4.5-5.6 L IS II USM.